For more than twenty years, we have been meaning to attend the public opening exercises of the Tanglewood Music Center, and on July 7, 2022, finally did. Thus, we’ve witnessed an almost sacred ritual, instituted in 1940 by Maestro Serge Koussevitsky, the high priest of musical culture in the Berkshires.
Since it also marks the formal (not the actual) start of an academic semester of the utmost importance to the student body, there is a little speechifying involved – but quieter and briefer than anywhere else in academe!
Three lovely recital pieces serve as preludes to the ultimate event in the exercise – the six minute choral piece Allelulia, which Koussevitsky commissioned Randall Thompson to compose for this purpose, sung by all the TMC Fellows, with Andris Nelsons conducting, while arrayed amid the audience in Ozawa Hall. It was breathtaking.
No need to take my word for it, listen here:
Go ahead, you’re worth it – spend five minutes, fifty-one seconds of your precious time on this:
Sung at Ozawa’s Farewell
Souvenir copies of the score were distributed to the audience at Seiji Ozawa’s Farewell performance, July 14, 2002; here is the inscription: “To the Berkshire Music Center, Serge Koussevitsky, Director. Alleluia – for four-part chorus of unaccompanied mixed voices.” It was first performed July 8, 1940 under the direction of Professor G. Wallace Woodworth.